Project profile: Air reserve station energy-saving project

Occupancy sensors have saved more than $166,000 for the air reserve station.


Occupancy sensors have saved more than $166,000 for the air reserve station. Courtesy: Andrew Caya, Air Reserve StationProject name: Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station
Project type: Existing building retrofit
Engineering firm: Air Force Civilian Service
Building type: Government buildings/military facilities
Location: Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Timeline: October 17, 2013 - December 4, 2013 


At the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (ARS), reliable energy is important to mission success—jet fuel energy to fly planes, heating fuel to create a productive working environment, and electricity to run almost everything else from lights, to computers, and to fans.

Creative energy savings solutions have allowed Niagara Falls ARS to make great strides toward the overall goal of reducing energy use by 3% per year, based on a 2003 baseline—a standard established as part of Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. But, even more aggressive energy measures are essential for continued progress, and to offset the impact of rising energy costs.  Across the Air Force, fuel and electricity costs are more than twice as much as 10 years ago, and Niagara Falls is not immune to these increases.   

Energy saving projects

Two energy-saving retrofit projects, put in place over the past year, are upping the ante, decreasing energy use, and helping the air station take advantage of rebate incentives offered by our current electrical energy supplier.

First, an Energy Conservation Measures project focuses on using fans in the warehouses and hangars to help force hot air down to floor level during the heating season, and provide cool air movement during the hotter, summer months. The fans significantly reduce HVAC costs, and provide a more comfortable, productive working environment. We also installed door interlocks that turn off the HVAC system when the overhead and hangar bay doors are opened.

The energy team also implemented a Special Energy Devices project that involved installing more than 2,700 occupancy sensors and 1,200 smart power strips base wide. A combination of wired, in-wall occupancy sensors and wireless ceiling-mounted occupancy sensors control over 350,000 sq ft, amounting to 1.8 million W of connected power. The wireless sensors made it easy to include occupancy sensing wherever we needed it with no requirement for additional wiring or expensive installation. The sensors provide excellent coverage, and ensure that lighting and exhaust fans are turned off when an area is unoccupied.

Some of the highest areas of impact have been in restrooms, break rooms, fitness areas, conference rooms, storage closets and hallways where lights and fans were previously on at between 12- and 13-hours a day, despite very low levels of occupancy.


The bottom line is that occupancy sensors have saved nearly a million kWh annually, which translates to a cost savings of $84,270. Combined with the associated $78,655 total authorized rebate from our current electrical energy supplier and more than $3,100 savings from the smart power strips, the Special Energy Devices project has already saved more than $166,000.

Planning is a big part of effective energy projects. The station work with suppliers, contractors, and energy advisors to take into account all aspects of the energy retrofit. We look for a fairly high savings to investment ratio, low cost technologies, and opportunities that take full advantage of available energy rebates.

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